A new month is upon us and what better way to kick it off than with some healthy resolutions. One of the things people often ask (and we often ask ourselves) is how best to clamber back onto the wagon after a slip up of either minor or major proportions. We’ve all been there, sometimes it’s just a meal, other times you can barely remember the last good run of healthy days and it feels like finding your way back to the zone is the hardest thing imaginable.
The good news is, it really isn’t *that* tough to get back on it, the hardest part is deciding to do it in the first place.
Call it the wagon, the zone or the lorry (my friend Jo and I what’s apped the lorry-like emoji so often when referring to said wagon that we renamed it that) you’ll be a hop, skip and a jump from boarding it with a few simple steps.
1. Draw the line
Quite literally we tell ourselves and struggling friends to physically draw a line on a piece of paper and put a stop to the off-road behaviour for good. It’s so tempting to think “I’ve been crap all weekend a Sunday night blowout won’t make much difference” or “it’s been a rubbish week so may as well end it with a gigantic takeaway and a vat of wine” but in matters of the lorry there is no time like the present and that’s exactly when you should stop the madness.
If we’re talking literally – take five minutes (even mid binge if possible) to ask yourself what you’re doing, why you’re doing it to yourself and whether you can stop yourself before it goes any further. You always can, so do. Brush your teeth and put the chain of healthy actions into effect right now because it is just never going to end well and make you feel any better about yourself. Trust me, I’ve been there enough times to know the route to happiness is not paved with McCoys multipacks or McDonald’s drive thrus and it most certainly can’t be found at the bottom of the biscuit jar (I’ve looked so you don’t have to).
The line (which will soon be a dot to you with your newfound healthy smugness) signifies a fresh start and forbids you from dwelling on the mishaps that pre-empted its arrival; don’t beat yourself up about it, it happens, it’s normal, I’m convinced even Gwyneth Paltrow eats an entire pizza once in a while so give yourself a break and make the important decision that what’s done is done and the future looks brighter.
2. Speak up
Tell someone you’re getting back on it and very often this will give you the kick you need to stick to it. Whether that’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, mate, colleagues, mum, dad, whoever; pick someone who you’ll feel guilty slipping up in front of so it keeps you on top of your game in future.
3. Stock up
Chuck out or give away any of the danger zone foods – we’ve found taking leftover birthday cake, Christmas chocolate or just bingeworthy bakes into work helps eliminate tempation. Then, you’re free to stock up on all the good things that will keep you on track. Get a big, healthy shop in if budget allows and make sure you fill up the fruit bowl with plenty of colourful treats to keep snack attacks at bay. If it’s not there, you’re less likely to hunt it out if you’re faced with wall-to-wall goodness.
4. Get cooking
Chances are you slipped up in the first place because you were bored, hungry or losing control of things. So once you’ve filled up your fridge with the right things, putting a plan in place will be instrumental in keeping you on track over the next crucial few days (I always think getting three clear days of healthiness under your belt makes it easier and more sustainable in the long run. Distance yourself from the line). Search out new recipes online, delve back into trusted healthy cookbooks for inspiration, ask friends for ideas, buy a healthy ingredient you’ve never tried before and challenge yourself to use it. Whatever gets you excited about being healthy all over again.
5. Get out there
After a bad few days or an astronomic binge the last thing you’ll feel like doing is dragging your sad, bloated bod out for a 10 mile run or a gruelling boot camp workout. At this stage I believe getting your head back into the game is the most important thing, so take it easy and do something gentle like a stroll with the dog, a swim with a friend or an SATC style power walk and talk (just minus Carrie’s Marlboro Light break).
6. Tidy house, tidy mind
I often find when one area of life (i.e. diet) slips, it’s because other things are out of whack or vice versa. While the idea of cleaning the house may not appeal in your depths of self-loathing, I can guarantee a good hour or two of getting the place shipshape will do wonders for your state of mind and outlook. Plus it’s a great bit of cardio to boot. Fresh starts all round.
7. Buy fresh flowers
As above, making your surroundings clean and fresh will keep you in the right head space. A bunch of blooms is a relatively cheap way to brighten up your home and make you feel slightly better about the world.
8. In good company
Surround yourself with people who love being healthy and influence you in positive ways. If you have certain friends who will always persuade you to sack off a workout to go for that after-work white wine session or order the weekend-destroying takeaway, give them a wide berth and instead seek out mates who are up for coming for a run with you or trying out that new healthy eaterie.
9. Set a goal
It doesn’t have to be a mammoth task like running a marathon, it might be to drink two litres a day (water I’m afraid, not wine) or walk home from work instead of catching the bus three days a week. Anything that you know will be achievable and enough to keep you going for the first few days to spur you on to greater goals.
10. Do something nice for yourself
I’ve found it’s important to learn that a return to the lorry isn’t an exercise in self-flagellation. In between meal and exercise planning, spare a thought for other ways to cheer yourself up. It’s not about punishing your body, it’s about treating it in the right way, so make time to do something else that will make you feel good. Long soak in the bath, overdue Skype date with a friend, booking that spa day you’ve been planning for yonks with your mum or some mates to give you something to look forward to or getting an early night with your Kindle, fresh sheets and a newly downloaded page-turner.
Whatever it is, treat yourself well and you’re in for a long and smooth journey on that lorry.
All images from Pinterest